Three mainlanders in Macao and four suspects in Zhuhai, including the suspected kingpin and other key members, were arrested early on Tuesday by the local and Zhuhai police respectively who had teamed up to smash a people-smuggling ring, Judiciary Police (PJ) spokesman Chan Wun Man said during Tuesday’s special press conference.
A rubber dinghy used by the people smugglers was seized by local officers during the operation.
A 36-year-old suspect from the mainland surnamed Qi told the police that he is a construction worker. The other two male suspects from the mainland who illegally entered Macao are in their forties.
According to Chan, the local police were recently notified by the Zhuhai Public Security Bureau (PSB) that people-smuggling activities were expected to take place in the early hours of Tuesday morning. The Judiciary Police and Macao Customs Service cooperated in the joint operation.
Macao customs officers detected an inflatable boat under Sai Van Bridge at 3:30 a.m. on Tuesday and immediately dispatched a vessel to intercept it. The officers arrested Qi, the boat’s skipper, and the other two mainlanders, and also seized his dinghy.
Chan said that the police later confirmed that the two mainlanders are illegal immigrants. Both confessed that they paid 10,000 yuan (MOP 11,280) and 30,000 yuan respectively to enter Macao illegally to gamble in local casinos, in order to avoid the COVID-19 quarantine measures imposed by the local and mainland authorities.
Qi told the police that he was paid 5,000 yuan by the ring for each people-smuggling trip. At about the same time early on Tuesday, Zhuhai Public Security Bureau officers arrested four male suspects involved in the gang.
Local police officers suspect that the gang had been in operation for about a month, Chan said, adding that the investigations into the case would continue as there were possibly more suspects involved in the gang.
Qi was transferred to the Public Prosecutions Office (MP) on Tuesday for further investigation, facing charges of aiding and abetting illegal immigration and belonging to a criminal organisation.